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Microsoft demos near real-time Skype voice translation

Translator app should be available at the end of the year, but will likely not be free.

Microsoft’s translator app is demonstrated on stage. (Photo: Microsoft)

In Star Trek: The Encyclopedia, the reason given why all the different alien races in the show were speaking English was Federation starships offered real-time translation via their comms systems as did the communicator badges worn by shipboard personnel. HSA-powered or not, the SoCs of the 24th century have enough processing power to offer real-time translation without vocal distortion.

While we are nowhere close to this in present-day Earth, Microsoft is attempting to get us part of the way there with its research into translating conversations on the fly. At its Code conference on Tuesday, Microsoft showed off a demo of its translator app for Skype which translated a conversation between two Microsoft employees — one speaking German and the other English — over Skype.

The translation is not yet real time. After one person finishes speaking, the app will translate what the person said and speak to the other in a synthesized voice. It isn’t exactly real-time, but it’s nearly there and if the beta is indicative of the performance of the final version it will be near revolutionary in a mature form.

In a blog post on Microsoft’s TechNet site, the company said that translation will be done in the cloud so the translator app should be hardware agnostic. On stage, Satya Nadella said that Microsoft’s goal is to get the app on all devices that run Skype.

The translator app will be out later this year, likely as a paid app. It will be making a debut on other devices early next year.

Source: Microsoft Technet

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